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saintz08 09-10-2005 10:41 PM


As the New Orleans Saints have dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, our focus primarily has been on reports regarding the front office's plans/schemes for possibly moving the team out of Louisiana, and on the NFL's FEMA-fast recognition that the Superdome won't be available this year.

But as the players get ready for a season of living out of a San Antonio hotel and playing at least one "home" game -- likely more -- somewhere else, we're hearing indications that some players are hoping that the team eventually will be moved to Los Angeles.

It's not an issue, obviously, of whether or not the players in question feel loyalty or compassion for the citizens of New Orleans. It's a question of whether these athletes have certainty in their professional lives and peace of mind regarding their homes and their families.

Just as a certain segment of the New Orleans population never will return after the long-feared "Big One" struck, there will be -- and most surely already is -- a finite number of Saints players who don't want to go back.

It's hard to blame them, really. Most aren't natives and don't have extended family in the area. Of the current 53-man roster, only four are from Louisiana (Fakhir Brown, Tony Bryant, Devery Henderson, Michael Lewis) and three are from nearby Mississippi (Fred McAfee, Deuce McAllister, Fred Thomas). Many now have houses -- either standing or not -- in which they can't live and for which they are making big mortgage payments.

And with the ever-present threat of another hurricane, the easy answer for guys with no history or emotional connection to the area is to get out.

The issue takes on even greater importance as contracts begin to expire. Regardless of the money offered, the other 31 teams now have a huge recruiting tool to get a guy to choose them over the Saints -- and you can bet they'll use it.

Beyond retaining the guys who already are under contract, the team is going to have trouble persuading free agents to come to the Saints in 2006, 2007, and each and every year until the team's long-term situation is settled. And if the long-term situation is to stay in New Orleans, the organization will always be forced to constantly deal with the fact that persuading a guy to join the Saints includes getting him -- and his family -- to accept moving into the possible cross hairs of another Category 5 storm in a city that sits below sea level.

For now, the players want the games to be in San Antonio because, simply, they don't want to be on the road every single week. Even though everything in San Antonio is inconvenient, requiring bus trips to practice and bus trips to even lift weights, staying put for the home games is a desirable thing. Games in Baton Rouge, though closer to "home," still require trips on the road.

Think back to the 1998 Titans, who practiced in Memphis and played in Nashville, or the 2002 Bears, who practiced in Chicago and played in Champaign. Both vagabond teams struggled, with the Bears regressing from 13-3 and a division championship to a 4-12 train wreck.

So the concerns are real, and look for more rumblings about the players' discontent to emerge as the 2005 season unfolds.

RockyMountainSaint 09-11-2005 01:51 AM


Thanks for the info 08.

SapperSaint 09-11-2005 02:54 AM

Doesn't look too good for staying in N.O. Great persective from the players point of view.

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